Confidence, experience guides men’s tennis to conference tournament

Media Credit: Hatchet file photo by Jack Borowiak | Hatchet Photograher

Senior Fernando Sala returns the ball during men's tennis' Feb. 2 match against Morgan State.

Men’s tennis has appeared in all six Atlantic 10 championship finals since 2011 – emerging as the victor in all but one.

First-year head coach David Macpherson said he is confident that his players will be able to extend that streak one more season and grab the fourth consecutive title if they’re able to perform at their best.

“I think if we play to our potential, we will [win],” Macpherson said. “It’s just a matter of getting the best out of our players that week and then from there you know hopefully advancing beyond that.”

The Colonials’ dominance has not diminished under their new coach this year. The team concluded their regular season Saturday with a 6–1 win over Fordham, highlighted by a doubles sweep and victories in each of the top four seeds.

“All of our guys had to fight hard and dig deep to get their wins so it was a perfect tune-up for the conference championship.”

“It was a really good performance to complete our regular season,” Macpherson said. “All of our guys had to fight hard and dig deep to get their wins so it was a perfect tune-up for the conference championship.”

GW’s 16-6 record is the best that the team has finished with since 2014 and includes an eight-match stretch during which the team picked up only one loss. The Colonials defeated the only ranked opponent they played against this year, then-No. 38 South Alabama, 4–3.

After nearly an entire season with Macpherson at the helm, junior Chris Reynolds said that the team has adapted well to the new coach and that he has lead the squad through a successful season so far.

“The transition has been very smooth, coach is just such a positive, great guy, awesome on and off the court,” he said. “I think [Macpherson] is also really excited for this conference [tournament] coming up right now.”

Two weeks ago, GW experienced one of its few blemishes to its schedule, falling to Richmond for its first conference loss since March 14, 2015. It was the team’s only defeat while not playing as the visitor. They went into the match 12-0 in games either at home or at a neutral location.

Since then, Reynolds said that he has been impressed by the Colonials’ ability to bounce back and return to the momentum they held earlier in the season.

“[Losing to] Richmond was tough, so we had two weeks basically to train and refocus,” Reynolds said. “This past weekend was very positive, great energy from all the guys.”

GW will travel south for the conference tournament, which spans from Thursday to Sunday in Orlando, Fla. It is formatted as a single elimination bracket where the top four seeds get a bye to the second day of action.

The Colonials will have a chance for a rematch with Richmond in the later rounds of the tournament. The Spiders will provide a big challenge for GW after winning 22 consecutive games before falling to Virginia last Tuesday.

Macpherson said the Colonials’ experience and previous success in the postseason should still give them an edge, even though they might have more pressure on their shoulders.

“There is pressure to win the championship because the expectations are high,” he said. “But also the team has the confidence to know that they can do it because they’ve done it in the past.”

“There is pressure to win the championship because the expectations are high.”

Despite GW’s consistency over the past six seasons of conference competition, the Colonials have been unable to advance past their first matchup of the NCAA Team Championship.

This time around, Macpherson said that he is hoping his team will be able to make the jump, get another win and become a national contender beyond A-10 play.

“Just to win the A-10 would be a great accomplishment,” Macpherson said. “I wouldn’t say we’re incapable of doing some damage farther down the tournament as well.”

The Colonials are led in large part by their veterans. Juniors Chris Fletcher, Christos Hadjigeorgiou and Reynolds, along with senior Julius Tverijonas, occupy the top four positions and have a combined 74-36 overall record.

Tverijonas, who was honored as a senior before his last career regular season game Saturday, has now tallied 67 total singles victories over his four years with more wins than losses in each season.

“Our seniors provided great leadership, so to inherit such good leaders was critical for a successful season for me,” Macpherson said. “It is very sad to see both of them go, but we have some emerging leaders in our juniors that I think are going to carry the torch.”

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